In 2012 America solidified its position as the world’s largest wine consuming country in the world (beating the French, again).  Sales at COSTCO, the number one seller of wine, reached 1.4 billion dollars as the membership discounter amped-up its square footage with more premium wine offerings.  
 
The West Coast had its finest harvest of wine grapes in over a decade in 2012.  We predict that when the red wines are showing on the shelves starting in 2014, buyers are going to buy them by the case (cheaper by the dozen).  Another prediction:  Francis Ford Coppola, the movie director turned winemaker in Napa Valley, will remake the old, cheapened Inglenook wine name into one of the most favored wine brands in the world.
 
My Top Ten Tastes include 3 from Napa Valley, one of the world’s best growing grounds for red wine, at the best prices I could find.  Other areas are: Sonoma,  Italy, Germany and Spain. The ten are treated equally on an excellence scale from 1 to 5, weighing flavor, body and value.  The list is alphabetical, all were rated excellent and does NOT indicate rank.
 
Alto Moncayo Garnarcha, Borja Spain.  2009.  $52.  Bold, ripe and ripping with muscular texture. Bursting with ripe berry flavor. This old vine Garnacha, a twin to the French Rhone Genache grape, is elegantly laced with a smoky white pepper accent.  www.wine.com
 
Angelini Agricola Sangiovese, Marche Italy. $17.  A rich landscape of farming northeast of Tuscany, Angelini captures the essence of the Sangiovese grape, a full-bodied, dry red.  Hints of cherry. leather, vanilla, oak and tobacco. Aged a minimum one year. Perfect pasta wine. www.angeliniwine.com.
  B Cellars Napa Valley owner Duffy Keys, left, lives in Rancho Santa Fe  and appears at wine dinners at Dolce Pane E Vino, welcomed by General Manager Steve Flowers.

  B Cellars Napa Valley owner Duffy Keys, left, lives in Rancho Santa Fe  and appears at wine dinners at Dolce Pane E Vino, welcomed by General Manager Steve Flowers.

 
B Cellars Sangiovese Napa Valley 2010.  $45. Remarkable minerality normally found only in Tuscany, Italy.  Ripe Strawberry with hints of vanilla.  Not as acidic as some.  Bolder skins of Syrah are integrated for skin color and tannins. www.bcellars.com.
 
Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Germany 2010.  $20. Found at the newly remodeled Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Feand The Grand Del Mar, this Riesling has stunning fruit forward, perfectly proportioned sweetness of peach, to balance citrus qualities. Harvested from the steep slate slopes of the Mosel District. www.drloosen.com.
 
Ferrari-Carano Tresor Blend Sonoma CA. 2009.  $52.  Mostly Cabernet in a Bordeaux Blend from “dry” farmed, low-yielding vines on higher elevations, Tresor produces a dense, black well of color, with vanilla and cedar tones.  Aged in French oak for 19 months.  www.ferrari-carano.com.
 
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma CA.  2008. $52. An Estate Cab with start to finish high quality control, matching the best of Bordeaux.  Silky and elegant with ripe plum accents. www.jordanwinery.com.
 
Keenan Merlot Napa Valley CA.  2009.  $36.  Winemaker Michael Keenan’s favorite wine…”goes with everything I eat.”  From the Spring Mountain area of Napa Valley, above the fog.  Intense black cherry, blackberry and cassis.  Coffee bean notes.  A BIG Merlot.  www.keenanwinery.com.
 
Lewis Alec’s Blend Napa Valley CA.  2010.  $60.  All mountain blend of 70% Syrah, 25% Merlot and 5% Cabernet.  Big high horsepower wine with chocolaty finish.  High octane 15.5% alcohol nicely balanced. www.lewiscellars.com.
 
Selbach-Oster Kabinett Riesling Mosel Germany. 2010. $18.99.  The lead white wine for the upscale restaurant chain Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, and hand selected by their Master Sommelier George Miliotes.
Miliotes describes this discovery as fruity to slightly sweet with a perfect baked apple finish.  As in most Rieslings, only 9% alcohol guarantees to bring out the juicy  refreshment as only a German Riesling is capable of doing; like a kiss of a wet stone. Slate soils high on Mosel banks inject this layered-in minerality. Miliotes added: “I was drawn to the Mosel River district of Germany.  This Riesling is my poster child for our old world wines.”  www.winesearcher. com
 
Tomassi Amorone Valpolicella Classico Verona Italy. 2007. $79. The Tomassi family has been making this timeless wine for 112 years. Includes Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinari grapes from the region. Grapes are dried for 4 months prior to pressing, then aged for 3 years in large Slavonian Oak.  www.tomassiwine.it.
 
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at www.tasteofwinetv.com.  Reach him at [email protected].

Receive more stories like this in your inbox